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The number one rule

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Do you know the number one rule of woodworking? For a happy, healthy shop life I hope you do.

Woodworking has rules. Lots and lots of rules. Some apply to techniques, some to materials and still others apply to safety. Within each of those categories you could easily point to a rule that’s more important than others. What woodworking fan of Norm Abram doesn’t know that “there is no more important safety rule than to wear these (tap-tap) safety glasses,” for example?

I have a good woodworking buddy down in Virginia that I catch up with every few months or so. Joe and I were chatting this morning about juggling shop life with family life, especially when setting up a new shop as I am now after our move. Anyone who’s moved a full shop knows what that’s like, and is well familiar with the importance of all the things building a new shop from the ground up entails – in essence, there are a lot of rules you need to follow.

But Joe noted something that, in retrospect, I think I always knew was more important than anything else. And that is that no matter what you’re doing with the shop, no matter how difficult it is or how essential it is to get done, whether delivering a commission or simply working on shop infrastructure, the number one rule is that nothing is more important than, as he put it, “Keeping the missus happy.”

And he’s absolutely right. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “missus” or a “mister,” the happiness and well being of your spouse or partner – and, by extension, your whole family – always takes precedence over shop matters. It’s so easy to get caught up in shop stuff, but sometimes it’s best to just step away and leave it in the shop. No matter what’s happening out there and no matter how important, it can wait.

Your family can’t wait. That’s the number one rule.



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My rules

I’m a pretty gregarious guy when it comes to shop sharing. But I do have a few rules.